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4Q249 Midrash Moshe: A New Reading and Some Implications

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This article proves that the title “Midrash Sepher Moshe,” written in Jewish square characters on the verso of the cryptic scroll 4Q249, is the product of a correction. Initially it had been “Sepher Moshe” which was subsequently corrected to “Midrash Moshe.” This is therefore a rare attestation of canonical awareness on the part of Qumran librarians. The terms “midrash” and “sepher” are discussed accordingly. In addition, the paleography of this title is submitted to close scrutiny, proving that the dating of these words to the early second century b.c.e. in not substantiated. Rather, both the first and second hands should be dated to around 100 b.c.e. like many other scrolls. This fresh analysis has important consequences for the dating of the entire cryptic corpus, which is not as early as previously suggested.

Affiliations: 1: University of Haifa; 2: EPHE-SorbonneOrient et Méditerranée, UMR 8167


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